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    Monday, February 25, 2008

    Stuffed Summer Vegetables on a Rotten Day

    It’s about to rain…it’s warm of course, but there is a depression over Auckland and it’s blowing a gale. Don’t feel like a salad for lunch. So how about hot vegetables.

    I saw Giada deLaurentis cook this stuffed summer vegetable dish this morning and my taste buds went into gear.

    This is my take on it.

    1 red freshly ground black pepper
    1 courgette
    ½ eggplant

    2 tablespoons parsley finely chopped
    2 tbs basil finely chopped
    2 tablespoons spring onion finely chopped
    2 cloves garlic finely chopped
    Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
    1 egg
    2 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs

    200 gms hamburger mince

    Olive oil

    Tomato ketchup

    Cut the pepper in half remove seeds and pith
    Cut courgettes in half and remove seeds

    Cuy eggplant in half horizontally and in half again and remove seeds
    Prick the eggplant to help cooking process.

    Brush all of them with olive oil and season well with S & P
    Meanwhile make the stuffing
    Add herbs, S & P, egg and breadcrumbs to a bowl
    Mix well
    Add mince knead well with your hands… the best and cheapest tools in the kitchen
    It needs good seasoning so be generous.
    Have a quick taste

    Fill the vegetable with stuffing and top with tomato ketchup

    Into 190C oven
    I baked the eggplant and pepper for 10 minutes and then added the courgettes (as they were smaller) for another 15 minutes.

    Let cool about 15 minutes, thing taste better closer to room temperature.

    What an easy and tasty lunch.

    We went to the movies saw “Juno”
    Excellent choice. The weather has not improved at all.
    It’s worse…as we drove around the waterfront to Mission Bay the wind was trying hard to push the car off the road..

    But very cosy in the cinema… Nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a little box of Pringles.
    Very pleasant.

    Home. Let’s stick with the comfort winter type food.
    This a favourite with our family.
    Perfectly poached eggs sitting on a bed on baked beans… with a side order of homemade oven baked chips.

    Eaten in front of the latest episode of “House”. What a meal! What a night!

    Saturday, February 23, 2008

    Fish Burgers and Chips - A New Healthy Take on an Old Favourite

    It’s the Oscars tomorrow and we are looking forward to watching the ceremony.
    Last year we had some people over and I made some tasty bits to accompany wine and the TV,. We haven’t made any plans yet will have to get onto the phone in the morning perhaps it’s always fun to share these experiences.

    We have been trying to see as many if the nominated movies as possible and in the last week have seen
    “Michael Clayton” Go George – “ Juno” lots of tears and laughter and today we saw the delightful “The Bucket List” with the brilliant talents of Jack Nicolson and Morgan Freeman,. We both loved it. Laughing and crying again.

    All wonderful movies/

    I have decided to refrain from dairy food for a couple of months.
    I have had problems with my feet and my masseuse Arlen. (I spent probably one of the most painful hours with him in a long time…but as they say it’s got to be good for you) Anyway he suggested that I should just cut back on dairy…stop clogging my arteries for a couple of months and see how I feel.
    Hopefully I might lose some weight as well.
    What's the bet Dale loses heaps and I lose about a pound!!!

    So I am being very creative and we have been having some fun food.
    So tonight I thought here’s a take on Fish Burger and Chips.

    The Burger
    300 gms fresh tuna (doesn’t have to be sashimi quality)
    5-6 drops sesame oil
    1 tablespoon soya sauce
    1 tablespoon fish sauce
    Zest 1 lime
    Juice 1 lime
    2 tablespoons spring onions finely chopped
    2 tablespoons ginger grated
    2 tablespoons parsley finely chopped
    Freshly ground black pepper
    Good shake chili flakes
    Olive oil

    First chop the tuna into little dice
    Place in bowl
    Add rest of ingredients let sit about 30 minutes to meld the flavours

    Shape into 2 patties

    Now the Kumara Chips
    Peel 1 large kumara

    Cut 4 thick slices
    Pop into the microwave for 5mins with a little water

    Dry and spray with olive oil both sides
    Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Into 200C oven 10 minutes
    Turn and back for another 10 minutes

    They should be nice and golden

    Remove and set aside

    Heat a grill pan to smoking hot
    Spray with olive oil

    Place on pan cook 1 minute 1 side
    Turn and cook for another 1 minutes
    This should be enough don't over cook them

    To serve

    Put on piece of roasted Kumara Chip on your plate
    Top with burger and place the other slice on the top.
    I think the corn was a good accompaniment .
    Quickly 4 minutes in the microwave in it's skin.
    I'm sorry I cheated. Rolled it in a little butter.
    It really is the only way for me.

    Very satisfying…very healthy

    Thursday, February 21, 2008

    Smoked Marlin Chowder - More Stories from the Far North

    Look at that fish!
    Our friends Geoff and Laurian caught this out at sea off the Bay of Islands, in their boat Silverado. Isn’t it amazing?

    After it was weighed (229.1 kilos)… it was sent off to the smoker.That’s a lot of Marlin. We have been the recipients of several packages. It really is beautiful just served cold on bread or a cracker. Maybe a little lemon juice or maybe that Japanese mayonnaise (that I am really keen on...they now have a mustard version which is excellent.) Little piquancy- yum.

    But there are many other ways to consume this wonderful fish.
    How about Smoked Fish Chowder

    An aside - I have posted chowders before and reiterate…please use full cream milk.
    I have used lesser milks and somehow they seem stick to the pot not good!

    So, back to the recipe.

    2 rashers bacon chopped
    1 onion finely chopped
    1 large potato peeled and chopped into cubes
    1 chili finely sliced
    1 corn cob kernels removed

    2 tablespoons butter
    1 glass white wine
    1 litre milk

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    200gms flaked marlin

    2 spring onions finely chopped Melt butter in pan
    Add bacon, fry till crispy, remove

    Add onions and chili sauté till translucent

    Add potatoes and corn
    Add about 100 mls of water and simmer till the potatoes are just fork tender

    Add white wine
    Bring to boil and evaporate wine
    Add milk
    Season to taste.

    Bring to simmer and gently cook about 5 minutes

    Meanwhile flake the marlin
    Add to chowder
    Let sit about 5 minutes for flavours to meld
    Serve in your pretty bowls and garnish with spring onions

    (What do you think about this big snapper? We were lucky enough to be recipients of that old granddaddy on New Years Eve)
    Crumbed filets. Very good

    Geoff is not only a great fisherman/person

    He has taken this excellent shot of our boat in
    Whangaroa Harbour.

    That’s the good ship Cajun Moon in front and behind us the beautiful Zulu,.
    More about Zulu and it’s crew later.

    Wednesday, February 20, 2008

    Happy Birthday Dan-Here’s a Salmon Feast for You

    It’s our son Daniel’s birthday…that very first birthday seems like only yesterday…where has that time gone…Anyway the staff have been waiting for another lunch so what better time.

    We usually bake a cake for anyone’s special day but I pulled out all stops and made this divine Asian Salmon with A Crunchy Noodle Salad.

    Mrs. Ina Garten The Barefoot Contessa has come up trumps yet again

    A wonderful filet of marinated salmon baked in a very hot oven

    Served with a colourful crunchy vegetable noodle saladThe aroma was intoxicating

    You will need the following

    The Salad
    1 red pepper sliced in batons
    Sugar snap peas 500 gms
    4 spring onions sliced vertically and rough chop
    60 gms spaghettini per person

    Blanch the sugar snap peas and shock them in ice cold water

    Make the dressing
    1 cup rice bran oil
    ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
    1/3 cup soy sauce
    2 tablespoons Sesame oil
    1 tablespoons honey
    2 cloves chopped garlic
    1 teaspoon grated ginger
    ½ cup peanut butter
    2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

    1 extra tablespoons toasted sesame seeds for garnish
    Toss the vege with about 1/3 of the dressing

    Meanwhile cook the noodles, drain.

    In a salad bowl add another 1/3 of the dressing
    Add the warm noodles then the rest of the dressing and toss.

    Add vege and toss again
    Dressing in stages like this is a better distribution of the sauce.

    Add 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
    And sprinkle the extra sesame seeds and toss just before serving.

    Asian Salmon
    Heat oven 260C
    Line roasting dish with foil (makes for easier washing up)
    1 side salmon
    1 cup Soy sauce
    ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
    ¼ cup lemon juice
    2 tablespoons oyster sauce
    1 tablespoons Fish sauce
    1 tablespoons sesame oil
    1 ½ teaspoon chili paste
    2 chopped spring onions
    2 tablespoons chopped Garlic
    2 tablespoons chopped ginger
    Add the salmon to the roasting dish
    Pour ½ of the sauce over the salmon
    Cover with 1 ½ cups Panko crumbs

    And then pour over the remainder of the sauce
    Make sure all the breadcrumbs are well covered

    Marinate 15 minutes

    Into oven for 15 minutes

    Cover with foil and let it rest about 10 minutes
    Sprinkle with chopped parsley

    Serve with The Crunchy Noodle Salad

    A nice little bottle or 2 of a nice Malborough Methode Champagnoise

    Katie made Birthday Cup Cakes

    350gm butter
    450gm dark chocolate, chopped
    2 ½ cups castor sugar
    1 ½ cups almond meal
    2 cups cocoa
    10 eggs
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    Preheat over to 140C.
    Line muffin trays with cupcake cases
    By the way she makes half the recipe and it makes 24 cupcakes

    Combine butter, chocolate and castor sugar in a heavy based saucepan over low heat.
    Mix continuously with a flat bottomed spoon until melted and smooth.
    Sift the almond meal and cocoa into a bowl.
    Add the chocolate mixture and beat for 1 min on low speed.
    The mixture should be thoroughly combined.
    Add eggs two at a time, beating well after each addition until the mixture is well combines; do not over beat, or too much air will be incorporated and they will crack during baking.
    Add the vanilla and beat until combined

    Spoon mixture into cases bake for 30 minutes or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean.
    Remove from trays and cool on a wire rack for 40 minutes before frosting.

    All So Simple…So Divine.
    I’m normally not a huge fan of fish from the Supermarket but the Fish department at my local Foodtown, Quay Street Auckland is lucky enough to have as it’s manager Kim.
    She is dedicated and really seems to care about her department.
    She supplied me with the excellent salmon for the lunch… not only did she get the freshest filets for me she also pin-boned them.

    Thank you Kim

    Of course there were leftover so what should a good leftover Queen do.

    Make Fishcakes

    Mashed potato with milk and butter
    Flaked leftover salmon
    ½ cup frozen peas
    Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

    Chill make into patty shapes

    Roll in Panko Breadcrumbs

    Cook over med heat in Olive oil
    Just a slice of lemon

    Monday, February 18, 2008

    Summer Healthy Burgers

    Just a quick post but a really yummy burger I just had to share.
    You could say an oldie but a goodie.
    Thought I would work on lower calorie food for a minute…only a minute though!!!
    It’s still right in the middle of summer and this burger would sit well on the BBQ but I used my $9 ridged cast iron grill that I bought from the Warehouse a few years back.

    So for the 2 of us
    2 baking potatoes
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Pop these potatoes into180C oven…they should take about 1 hour.

    Grab some nice hamburger mince about 250 gms
    2 knobs blue cheese
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Let the mince come to room temperature
    Season well
    Give it good knead in the bowl
    Form in your hand…make a hole in the middle
    Pop in the blue cheese
    Seal up the edges slap the burger back and forth in your hands...just for a little extra kneading it does help to tenderize the meat.
    Form a nice patty

    Set in onto a very hot grill
    Should take about 4-5 minutes each side

    Meanwhile the mushrooms will take 10 minutes in the oven

    4 large Portobello mushrooms
    Garlic powder
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Chili flakes
    Olive oil

    Oil a baking tray
    Lay on mushrooms
    Season with salt, freshly ground black pepper, chili and garlic powder

    I just put them in during the last 10 minutes of the potatoes

    To serve

    One mushroom on the bottom
    Nice thick slice of tomato S & P
    Mushroom on top

    Split the potatoes
    Knob of butter
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Few chives chopped on the top

    How about that for a healthy dinner

    And to top off such a tasty "Good for you meal"
    My nice husband brought me in a wonderful, juicy, perfumed white peach...just at their peak
    He even sliced it for me.
    Lucky me.

    Wednesday, February 13, 2008

    Excellent Books and Asha's Papaya and Walnut Scones

    I have been beside myself with excitement... I am in the process of reading all these books at once.
    Madeleines in Manhattan” Colette Roussant
    A Year of Eating Dangerously” Tom Parker Bowles
    Kitchen Memoirs” Shonagh Koea
    And the wonderful Tamasin Day Lewis “What Shall We Have For Lunch.”
    If you can read all or any of them please do, they are wonderful.

    Each book is fascinating and I don’t want them to end.
    But life must go on and there is cooking to do.

    Lovely Asha of Foodies Hope (have a look at her site here. Some of the best Indian Food you will find)... read my Cheddar Date and Orange Scone post and suggested I might like to try her Papaya Scones
    I have and they are great.
    The difference between what Americans call scones and what we of British stock call scones is probably an egg.
    Their scone mixture is a batter where our scones are a dough
    The American Scones keep better…our scones need to be eaten on the day just like a baguette.

    Asha’s Papaya Scones

    You need:
    1 ¾ cup Plain flour,1/3 cup packed brown sugar,
    2 teaspoons Baking powder,
    ¼ teaspoons salt,
    1/3 cup firm unsalted butter or Margarine,(I used the butter),
    1 Egg,
    ½ cup half and half of full cream milk and cream,
    1 cup chopped ripe Papaya,
    1/4 cup finely chopped Pecans or Walnuts or any nuts.
    To bake Scones: Preheat oven to 200C.
    Mix flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.
    Add cut up butter and mix with your fingers until they look like bread crumbs.
    Add papaya and nuts mix to coat with flour
    Add egg and cream beaten together and mix with a wooden spoon just until combined.
    On an ungreased baking sheet, scoop 1/3 cup of mix and drop them 3" apart from each other.
    Put it in the oven and bake for 18 mins or until golden brown on top.
    Do not over bake.

    Slide them on to a cooling rack gently and immediately and store in a air tight container when cooled for breakfast or light snack.
    Serve warm or at room temperature with jam or powdered sugar.
    They didn’t need butter or jam they were lovely as they were...but it’s up to you.

    Thank you Asha
    Had the last one this morning with coffee and even 2 days old were still tasty.

    Wednesday, February 06, 2008

    Spaghetti alle Vongole or in this case Cockles alle Vongole

    We have just had a wonderful week at Omaha Beach with the family.
    New Zealand has had a boomer summer this year except for the Far North where we spent all of January on the boat (enough said)So back to Omaha. Check it out here

    The beach house we rented overlooked the Estuary side and this included the best sunsets.
    So there was the Big beach which is rolling surf - white sand - fun fun fun
    And then the Small beach…the Estuary . Tidal - grey sand but great for foraging.
    The children wanted to dig for cockles. Off they went
    Kiwi Kids on Holiday
    Off to the Beach

    The Foragers

    Murray, The Marine Ranger checking that they hadn’t picked more than their quota

    Sophia washing the catch

    And now to the preparation

    First soak the shell fish in a bucket of salt water for several hours, to try and remove as much sand as possible They spit it out clever little things.

    I had to change the classic recipe. I thought this was a perfect entry for
    Ruth from Once Upon a Feast Presto Pasta Night
    Have a look at her site here lots of wonderful Pasta recipes

    NowI felt as they are quite small and you need at 2 dozen each for a good feed I steamed and opened and removed the meat from all reserving about 30 which I used as the sauce.

    Into a hot pan add 100 mls water bring to boil and add big handful of cockles

    Cover with lid and shake and cook about 2 minutes till they all open
    Any unopened toss away
    Remove cockles cool and remove meat and reserve.

    There were so mnay it took several batches.
    By the way it’s a good liquor which could be worth keeping, would make a good stock.

    Salty though so be cautious with amount...

    Anyhow I am now down to the last 30.
    So now we are really cooking
    For 4 people

    Cockles as above
    2 garlic cloves peeled
    1 chilli finely chopped

    3 tablespoons olive oil plus a little extra
    Half a glass white wine or vermouth

    2 tablespoons chopped parsley

    Freshly ground black pepper

    400 g spaghetti or linguine

    Mince the garlic and heat in a large pan with the oil. It must not go brown.
    Add the chili to the garlic and oil in the pan.

    Meanwhile cook the pasta until just undercooked;

    Drain it,

    Add a little olive oil to prevent it sticking, and cover to keep warm.

    Add cooked cockle meat to the pasta

    Add the reserved cockles, bring up the heat and pour in the wine or vermouth;

    Cover and shake over the heat for a few minutes until all the cockles have opened

    (pick out and discard any that refuse to open).

    Add the drained pasta to the pan and mix everything around;

    Put the lid on for another minute or so until the pasta is ready to eat

    Toss the parsley over, mix and serve.

    So so good.